We Have to Save Striped Bass – Again
Once again we stand at the edge of a precipice with the fate of striped bass hanging in the balance. Last time around, it took an unprecedented act of Congress and draconian regulation measures to save this iconic species. Some of you may remember it well. I certainly do. It happened back in 1985 with the passage of Amendment 3 to the Striped Bass Management Plan, an all out, no holds barred, attempt to save the 1982 year class, the only decent cohort group left alive. Minimum size limits rose skyward, eventually reaching 36″. Making the recreational fishery for all intensive purposes entirely hook & release. Sure it was tough, but it worked like magic and became a crowning moment for all concerned including the ASFMC. But unfortunately in 1995 the ASFMC reopened the fishery and things have never been the same. You can read my reaction in my 1994 magazine article for Fly Fishing in Salt Waters
Right now we face several years on low reproduction, overfishing, and a declining spawning stock biomass. Making matters worse Chesapeake Bay, the principal spawning grounds for striped bass, is terribly polluted in good measure due to manure runoff from large scale chicken farming that has gone poorly regulated.
Amendment 7 is the ASFMC’s next attempt to save striped bass. The question remains will it be strong enough, have enough teeth to save striped bass. I have my doubts.